Having not driven for a few weeks on an event, it was time to head to Debden in Essex for an Autosolo. Venue rules meant two people were not allowed in the car at the same time, and as the venue is quite large, the quickest way to get around (and help not delay the event) is to drive between the three test sites. With this rule in place, we took a road car as well as the MG to get around. We also had to disinfect the MG whenever we changed drivers – again another venue rule which we respected, but did feel slightly odd!
I was a bit out of sorts on the day, it was a busy and competitive class but I just was not quite on the pace!
With South Oxon Car Club running a test day at Bill Gwynne’s Rally School at Turweston Airfield, it seemed a good opportunity for more seat time, especially as the venue is gravel. It was a successful (if not a little damp and dirty day!) as it’s always good to try things – I don’t tend to left foot brake in competition, but this gave the chance to try it out more, without the pressure of competition.
Sometimes you need luck on your side, and this was one of those days.
Having not been able to stage rally all year, we managed to get an entry for the Flying Fortress, which was oversubscribed. Matt had not done the event before, but I had retired from the event in 2015 with driveshaft issues when co-driving for Tony Michael.
With quite a few friends also competing, we managed to secure enough space in service to be sociable. The event is mainly tarmac/an old concrete airfield but there are some sections through the trees on a mix of mud/gravel. The day was going ok, until SS4 when a banging noise became apparent. In service, we had a look and the wheel was moving more than it should which turned out to be a lost wishbone bush. Between Matt and Duncan Christmas, they managed to fit another one in and we got back out for SS5 and SS6.
Although the car needed a little nursing, we got through SS5 and SS6 to finish 2nd in class which was a pleasing result. It was our first event as competitors doing contactless timing on a stage rally (given it was our first stage event during Covid-19) and all worked well and as it should.
During Covid-19, we’ve found event entry lists fill up quicker than ever – often within minutes. We’d missed entries opening for the Harrow Car Club sprint, and by the time we entered we were both reserves. We were contacted by the Entries Secretary and asked if only one of us had an accepted place, who would compete, and we decided Matt as we were using the event as a shakedown for the Micra before a stage rally the following weekend.
Of course, this became the reality! As I was first reserve and the car was going to be at the event, we decided I would still turn up but that I would take my car in-case I had the option to go home again. I signed on and did everything I needed to in advance so if a space became available I was signed on and ready to go.
Just as I started to walk the course, the Entries Sec found me and said – you’re in! Someone had become ill overnight and someone else had found their car would not start coming off the trailer. I walked the course, changed and then it was time for me to compete.
My runs went well in practice, with me sitting second in class behind a Davrian with Matt third in class. I was finding more time each run, especially as the timed runs start. Going into the final timed run, I was leading the class (first time on a sprint!) and found nearly a second. Unfortunately, me leading only seemed to fire Matt up and he found pace that hadn’t been there earlier in the day and took the class win by 0.73 seconds with me in second, and the Davrian 0.81 seconds behind me.